Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gratitude-a memory of the heart

by KParthasarathi Saturday, February 23, 2008
It was during 1940s Rangaswamy iyengar lived in Chennai very close to a temple not that he was religious or spiritually inclined. It happened that he chose to live with members of his own community. He owned several houses and chawls in the vicinity. Though a graduate, he did not take up any job but looked after the vast lands he owned in an adjacent village. He was considered a rich man. Though he had a large family of seven children, his kitchen served food daily for about thirty people. Besides children there were elderly cousins not well off living in the house. He also gave shelter to his wife’s young relative who had lost her husband early in life. She had two children...Every night around 8pm two poor boys would come to take their dinner. The boys would be different each day. They took turns. They brought their own stainless steel plate with them and were served the same food that others took even when the family members had not finished their dinner. This was known as vaara saappadu (weekly food).The members of the family knew these boys only by their faces. It seemed that the old man even paid for their school fees and gave them dresses during Deepavali.
Iyengar was a gullible man and not worldly wise. He was trusting by nature and was easily moved when he saw someone suffering. His clever ‘friends’ and relatives took advantage of his innocent nature by making him stand as surety for the loans they took but never intended to repay. More often than not, he would be compelled to liquidate such loans. Neither he learnt any lesson nor did his sons take up the issue strongly with him out of respect. The relatives were parasites living upon his income and salting away their own earnings. He married off his daughters in pomp and style. He lost many of his houses and lands for the loans others took. He lost his wife too. His sons were in ordinary jobs and were not well off. They were living as a joint family in the large house. Srinivasan the eldest of his sons was even struggling to run a decent household with his own large family. . It was then one kindly well wisher advised iyengar to partition whatever property was left amongst his sons keeping nothing for himself and allow them to live separately.
In the course of a decade the old man passed away .The eldest son was living in the house that was broken up into several small portions. His son a bright boy was looking for a job. Those days there was no IT or industrial boom. Jobs were difficult to come by. There were other children studying in different classes. It was a life of want and struggles.
One evening a chauffeur driven ambassador car halted before the house and a young man in his early thirties in full suit stepped out. He wavered a little before entering the house. He asked Srinivasan who was reclining in an easy chair whether this was Rangaswamy Iyengar’s house. He replied that it was, that the old man was no more and that he was his eldest son. Srinivasan could see a tear trickling down from the misty eyes of he young man and asked him who he was. The visitor bent down and touched the feet of Srinvasan and said “Mama, you may not remember me. I am Varadan who grew up eating my dinner in your house for years. Your dad paid my fees, bought me dresses and on one occasion even bought for my sister a mangalya sutra in gold for her wedding. I am what I am today because of his generosity. I can never forget the large hearted soul. For today and its blessings, I owe in no small measure to your dad.’
He then enquired about his mother and others in the family. When he learnt about Srinivasan’s circumstances, he asked his son to meet him in his office the next day. He redeemed the house from the pledge with the bank and gave his son a good job. He instituted some scholarships for poor children in the locality school in memory of Rangaswamy iyengar.
Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else. -

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful story of kindness and gratitude. You have also quoted right words.